Photo by Kirstie Shanley
Over the next couple days in Reykjavik, Iceland, music industry sorts will gather for You Are in Control, an international conference dealing with issues in music and media. One such presenter is Jane Dyball, head of business affairs for Warner/Chappell, the publishing company responsible for the work of that Radiohead band. Dyball's presentation concerns all kinds of data surrounding last October's release of In Rainbows, which, as you may have heard, completely changed the music business forever and stuff.
Well, not really; but according to a report on Dyball's figures from "digital music business information and strategy company" Music Ally-- which has been confirmed by Radiohead's publicist-- In Rainbows certainly worked out well for the band.
The writeup suggests that there have been three million purchases of In Rainbows thus far, from digital sales through the band's webstore in the run up to the album's release, the discboxes, the eventual physical release of the album on CD, and through other digital outlets. More specifically, the band moved around 100,000 of those (very nice!) discboxes, and the physical CD has sold 1.75 million units to date worldwide. Not bad for a thing you could get for free.
The report characterizes the In Rainbows experiment as a success, noting "for Warner it served to prove a point that by licensing directly (i.e. outside the collecting society network) and by offering a genuine one stop shop for licensing (i.e. combining all the digital rights into one offer from a single entity) the publisher was able to generate far more money for both themselves and the band than would have been possible under the traditional system."
Music Ally also notes that the last several Radiohead releases sold in the hundreds of thousands, not millions, so the buzz-building nature of the band's release plan certainly lit a fire under consumers. To that end, the report offers that "the fact that Radiohead had made more money before In Rainbows was physically released than they made in total on Hail to the Thief is surely evidence enough that the initiative was a tremendous success." Better album, too.
There were, of course, some hang-ups; the thing hit BitTorrent almost immediately after its release, and it's "clear that the BitTorrent downloads did indeed greatly outnumber those from Radiohead's official site." In fact, the band and their management kept a pretty keen eye on the digital sales of the disc through their website, "and were watching the average price daily with a view to potentially withdrawing it any moment should it drop too low."
They did, eventually, pull the free download option off the site, but the point seems to be this: what they did worked awfully damn well-- for Radiohead, for this particular album, at this particular moment. The article notes this as well: "In fact, if anything, the only trouble with the whole thing was that it was just arguably too successful. The whole 'pay what you like' experiment became the story rather than the music itself. And that's not so Radiohead. The band and Thom Yorke initially found themselves answering questions about why they chose to do what they did rather than being asked about the music itself."
So, back to the music, then. Thom's on that new Björk single, and the band recently joined the artist advocacy group Featured Artists Coalition. Having finally wrapped that Japanese tour, they've got no live dates on the way at the moment, opting instead to work up the successor to In Rainbows. New Radiohead album? AAAAAAAHHH!!!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Radiohead's In Rainbows Successes Revealed
Photo by Kirstie Shanley